A Train Is Only As Good As Its Track

The other day I was reading a story to my daughter about Thomas the Train. On the last page, I was struck by the value of the lesson the book was sharing, and impressed by it’s unwitting application to business practices.

Here is a quick summary: 

The first train breaks down, so Thomas the train offers to fill in and loads up all the customers. Then a cold storm comes and the hail breaks the track. Thomas is stuck. Customers are disappointed that they have to take the bus. The bus stops because of a toad in the road, and the customers become frustrated. The customers arrive at another train station after the toad delay, and it turns out that the trains are not running at that station at all. They are truly stranded. Thomas gets trapped in place on the track, locked up by other trains behind him who are trying to get through and pushing against him. They have major miscommunications and he can’t back up to go a different route. Finally, a crew comes to fix the track. Thomas realizes that no matter his intentions, he is only as good as his track. If there is a crack in the track, you can’t move forward, even if you know what has to be done. Even if you know the way and you want to help, you end up letting people down.

It made me think: What are the potential cracks in our track that we need to shore up against and have a team contingency plan for? What are the “toads in our roads” that we should potentially be aware of?

I’m always thinking along these lines anyhow – but recent conversations with valued customers at conferences have made it hit home even more how important it is to prepare for contingencies. I listen to their concerns about our company’s growth. They want to make sure we will stay focused on their needs in the middle of expansion. They want to know their needs will be met as we add new team members and new clients. All these are valid concerns.

As our Get Smart Group train rumbles forward into 2020, we are planning for alternate routes to make sure we have the ability to be there for our customers when it really counts. 

How do we plan?

We meet with our growth consultant each quarter to map out our “tracks”. We map our plans, strategies and to-dos for each team member, as well as our overall business goals and budgets. We keep our advisors involved by constantly mentoring our entire team throughout the year, helping each individual with their goals and needs, and providing valuable insights. We talk to each other about the big picture and small details required to deliver on our promises. I’m proud to say we hit the mark about 95% of the time. The other 5% generally comes down to being human and making occasional mistakes. But we own our work – mistakes or otherwise – and we learn from it all.

Want to hop on board and get to your goals faster this year? Join us! Your marketing opportunities for 2020 will soon be leaving the station. All Aboard!

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